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A Conservatory for Wolves

Read by Brandon Courtney

Hélène Grimaud transforms Chopin into wild
percussive hammers, the piano her anvil,

my feminine Hephaestus. When not playing,
she maintains a conservatory for wolves.

With Alawa and Zephyr in my pack, I’m sure
I’d feel the same as Hélène playing Polonaise in A,

pushing each chord into a bright military
howl. I see eyes spark within the sound,

a stain of red and yellow. She tracks
the final diminuendo: the world’s

end. The night’s end. She and I know
at best, self can only be self

and wolves are never tame.
I’ve played those same notes alone

wishing I could play them for you,
my ring finger stretching to fill

the alpha male of Chopin’s work. He
wrote for bigger hands, and mine ache.

We are a pack of two, Grimaud and I,
scavenging these grand staff fences

for what is classical, what is evolving;
the polished whorls and loops of our

fingertips marking the keys with our final
coda: I’m here. I’m here. I’m here, like you.

Abigail Browning received her Masters in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she currently teaches English. Along with several other MFA colleagues, she is a contributing editor for the Tate Street High Society, a literary blog. When not grading or writing, she teaches swing dancing and vernacular jazz across the country. Her poems are published or forthcoming in The Greensboro Review, RHINO Poetry, and Yemassee Poetry Review Online.